The British government has rejected a petition, calling for preventing US President Donald Trump from visiting the UK1.

Downing Street says the visit is still on. The Foreign Office says it recognises the strong views expressed but looks forward to welcoming Trump once dates and arrangements are finalised. Thousands of people have demonstrated and more than 1.8 million have signed an online petition against the visit since Prime Minister Theresa May extended the invitation last month. British lawmakers will hold a non-binding debate on the petition on Monday. The government responds to all petitions on its website if they are signed by more than 10,000 people.

UK government does not care about public opinion: Activist2

The British government has rejected a petition to cancel a state visit by US President Donald Trump. Press TV has asked political activist and commentator, Shabbir Hassanally, to shed more light on why London paid no heed to the petition signed by more than 1.8 million Britons.

Hassanally says he doesn’t find it surprising that Trump’s state visit to the UK is still in place because the British government has never really cared about public demand.

“If you cast your mind back to 2002 when there was a demonstration of over two million people in London opposing the invasion of Iraq, this was completely ignored. So while in a way we are given this illusion that we live in a democracy, this is not the case. We are living in a bureaucracy where you have very thin sort of group of rich and powerful oligarchs who run the show,” Hassanally told Press TV.

He argued that the whole Brexit palaver has already created a very difficult situation for the government, which means Britain is not going to prevent someone like Donald Trump from coming to the country because that will jeopardise any future deals and trade concessions.

The activist also opined that the British government is going to be “very weak” and “half-hearted” in the way it conducts any negotiations because it is composed of people who were against the Brexit from the beginning.

He noted that Theresa May is not qualified to be the prime minister and was imposed by the governing Conservative party.

Hassanally further maintained that the United States and Britain have a special relationship which he described as a type of “Pax Americana” where essentially Washington encourages London to do certain things on its behalf and sometimes uses it as a “scapegoat.”

“So Britain is the lapdog of America which is sorrowful because England should be a country in its right, the people should have their rights and opinion. But the lawmakers and the politicians are weak and do not have the backbone to stand up against anyone,” he said in conclusion.

The British government says an invitation for US President Donald Trump’s state visit is still in place, despite an outpouring of public and political protest3.

More than 1.8 million Britons have signed an online petition urging the government to withdraw the invitation that Prime Minister Theresa May extended to Trump while she was visiting Washington last month.

The petition, which is expected to be put to debate in Parliament, called for Trump to be allowed to enter the UK but not be granted an official state visit because of fears it would cause embarrassment to Queen Elizabeth.

In a statement sent to petition signatories, the Foreign Office said the government “recognised the strong views … but does not support this petition.”

It also said that the US president should be granted the “full courtesy” of a state visit to the UK and that preparations would continue.

“This invitation reflects the importance of the relationship between the United States of America and the United Kingdom. At this stage, final dates have not yet been agreed for the state visit.”

State visits by foreign leaders typically include an address to Parliament.

However, the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, has said he would refuse permission for Trump to address the chamber, citing “opposition to racism and sexism.”

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow (file photo)

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow (file photo)

British MPs will hold a non-binding debate on the petition Monday.

Officials are also seeking to limit Trump’s public exposure during the visit to reduce the opportunities for protest.

Thousands of people have already demonstrated against Trump’s state visit.

The campaign to halt the visit gained momentum after Trump signed his now-blocked executive order, closing the nation’s doors to citizens of seven Muslim countries.

A counter-petition calling for the state visit to go ahead has attracted more than 309,000 signatures.

Footnotes

  1. The interview was conducted by Press TV for its Top 5 program on February 15, 2017
  2. The interview has been partially transcribed and uploaded to the Press TV Top 5 section at UK government does not care about public opinion: Activist
  3. The full story can be found here – UK government rejects petition to stop Trump’s state visit

Written by Shabbir Hassanally

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